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Source: (consider it) Thread: Chronologically
Unum Solum
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# 18904

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I am aware that the order the NT may have been written has some differing views but not majorly(?)

Is there value in reading it in the order that it is generally accepted to have been written to gain a better understanding of its development of thought/understanding as to what the heck just happened?

If so would you care to posit an order, or your preferred method.

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I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil. - Gandalf

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Raptor Eye
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# 16649

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It's generally agreed that the letters of Paul were written before the gospels, and that the synoptics were written around 30 years after Jesus died, with John a little later.

I recommend reading Mark first, then Matthew and Luke which build on Mark, John, then Acts which is the successor to Luke, the letters of Paul, then the rest, ending with Revelation.

It doesn't make sense to read about what happened after Jesus had ascended to Heaven before you've read about his life.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Unum Solum
Apprentice
# 18904

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I have heard it said that Paul’s theology develops (changes?) through his Epistles? I also wondered if the Gospels were influenced at all coming later. I kind of know my way around the Gospels so was looking to maybe find what I am missing..

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I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil. - Gandalf

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Oscar the Grouch

Adopted Cascadian
# 1916

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I like the overall idea, but getting a workable list raises all sorts of issues and unanswerable questions.

Just to take the gospels, I would put Mark first but it is purely a flip of the coin as to whether Luke or Matthew comes next. My guess is that they were written approximately at the same time, in different places and without any knowledge of each other. But I am aware of the arguments that Luke knew Matthew's Gospel and the conflicting arguments that Matthew knew Luke's gospel. In the end, it comes down to whose theory tickles your fancy the best.

But you could certainly start with 1 & 2 Thess, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians and then Romans.

Here's another imponderable - where do you put Hebrews? It certainly comes AFTER some of Paul's writings, but which ones? And does it come from BEFORE the Temple was destroyed or AFTER?

A final fly in the ointment (I'm not trying to be discouraging but I can't help myself) is that we shouldn't think that the Christian faith developed evenly across all parts of the Church. So the faith of Christians in (say) Jerusalem may have looked very "primitive" to Christians from (say) Ephesus at the same period. Or vice versa...

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

Posts: 3864 | From: Gamma Quadrant, just to the left of Galifrey | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
Unum Solum
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# 18904

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Thanks Oscar I like that, and rather than be confusing it helps me to place the Bible. Not on a pedestal but in the real world.

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I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil. - Gandalf

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Steve Langton
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# 17601

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Too late at night to do a check on this but my memory is that there is a tradition that Matthew came first but was written in 'Hebrew' - probably in fact Aramaic - because Matthew was a missionary among Jews; the other gospels were written in a church already well out into the Gentile world. If so at a later date it was realised that Matthew's witness was useful and it was translated into Greek but also combined with Mark.

On the OP idea, I think you do have to read at least one gospel first if you are to understand anything much of the allusions in the epistles. But it's a good thing to remember that the epistles were written first, though to people who would have some knowledge of Jesus' life.

The implication is that the epistles are deliberately quite 'theological' and the gospels written to supplement the theology, and that accounts for the different emphases of the two kinds of writing. Otherwise it's easy to make the mistake of thinking that the epistles, and Paul in particular, changed the teaching of the gospels; whereas that is not the chronological relationship.

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Unum Solum
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# 18904

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Steve is there any indication that Paul was an eye witness to anything Jesus did or said in Jerusalem?

It’s true to say also that Paul was not privy to any of the end of day chats Jesus had with the disciples over a beer and a curry when who knows what was asked or questioned or explained.

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I will not say do not weep for not all tears are an evil. - Gandalf

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BroJames
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# 9636

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The gospels are reductions into writing of the stories of Jesus’ life and ministry that were being told in the church as it grew. Those traditions about Jesus were part of the backcloth against which the issues Paul and others deal with in the epistles.

There is argument about which gospel came first, but the majority view for a long time now has been that Mark came first with Matthew and Luke coming after, drawing substantially on the same material as Mark, but also on another source or sources common to both of them as well as material unique to each. John clearly draws on the same general tradition but with significant differences in approach and material not found elsewhere. The argument continues about the value of John as an eyewitness source, or whether it should be seen as more derivative.

The trouble with attempting to identify development in Paul’s theology is. Hat there is very significant disagreement about the chronology of the epistles, about the authorship of some of them, and about what constitutes development.

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Steve Langton
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# 17601

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Unum Solum, I'm not aware of any evidence that Paul was an eyewitness of Jesus in Jerusalem; but I do tend to assume that Jesus knew what he was doing and the kind of talent he was recruiting when he interrupted Paul's journey to Damascus.

BroJames, Yes in current Greek form Mark came first; but there is, AIUI, a probability that Matthew in fact wrote first in Hebrew/Aramaic and 'Matthew' as we now know it is a version translated into Greek and edited together with Mark's Greek gospel, with which it partly overlapped.

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BroJames
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# 9636

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I sort of agree with that. I think that in their present form, it is likely that Mark predates Matthew, but I don't consider the Gospel of Matthew, therefore to be a derivative work based on Mark as we have it now.

I don't think there is any reason to believe that elements in Matthew (e.g. infancy narrative, sermon on the mount) which are not present in Mark are later material. The particular way in which material is combined in Matthew's Gospel may well be later than the overall presentation we find in Mark - and I think there is a convincing literary case for that. But I don't think the existence of the Sermon on the Mount, or of the infancy material is later.

Most of the Synoptic documentary hypotheses seem to me to be too simplistic and linear. That probably means that any attempt to read the Gospels 'chronologically' is misconceived.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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In the sermon yesterday our rector suggested that the gospel of Mark is actually dictated to Mark, by Peter, probably in later life. Get the old Apostle's stories down before he passes on, was the idea.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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BroJames
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# 9636

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There is very early Christian tradition (Papias (60-130AD, Irenaeus (130-200AD), Justin Martyr (c.150AD)) that Mark's Gospel is based on Peter's testimony. A presentation of the case for that theory can be found here
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Oscar the Grouch

Adopted Cascadian
# 1916

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This is sort of steering away from the OP, but I think that it is more likely that "Matthew" knew "Mark", as well as other traditions (both Greek and Aramaic). There are a number of points where when you compare Matthew's version with Mark's, the best explanation is that Matthew started with Mark and then made adjustments (in pretty much the same way that Luke did). Of course, it may be possible that Matthew was working with what you might call "proto-Mark" (ie, not quite the document we now have), but for me the linguistic dependence of Matthew (and Luke) upon Mark seems fairly strong and I think you need more than a (much later) tradition to overturn this.

I think Matthew's gospel certainly gives a good indication of what Hebraic Christians were being taught, and that this may well have been quite different in tone from what was being taught in Gentile areas, especially in Greece or Rome.

"In the sermon yesterday our rector suggested that the gospel of Mark is actually dictated to Mark, by Peter, probably in later life."

As BroJames says, that tradition is fairly early and should certainly be given some credence. But I would hesitate to be too conclusive about that. Possibly more realistic is that "Mark" represents one of the strands of oral teachings about Jesus that was being passed down to the new generations of Christians ("Q" being another). These teachings would have originated with Peter and the other apostles, but would probably have taken on a life of their own afterwards.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Nigel M
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# 11256

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If the idea of taking the NT books in an order causes more problems than it solves, would taking themes in an order be of use? For example, take Paul's opening explanation of the gospel in Romans ("God is angry...") and work on from there to other theme, to build a narrative. Tricky without the OT, I know.
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Latchkey Kid
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# 12444

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Mark was written with a theological purpose. Matthew and Luke used some of the stories from Mark but they changed their order, association with each other and wording because they had different theological purposes that presumably were more important or appropriate for their audiences.

Look at the disciples in the stories about the Lord's prayer. Matthew's Jewish Christian audience inherited a rich tradition of prayer and were told to cool it by Jesus telling his disciples not to overdo it. Luke has a theme of encouraging his community to pray and not give up, so the Lords prayer is presented in the context of disciples who need to learn how to pray, as presumably Luke's "church" does.

So I think that looking for a chronology will lead you down the garden path. Much better to understand the different theologies, or expressions of theology, in the books.

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'You must never give way for an answer. An answer is always the stretch of road that's behind you. Only a question can point the way forward.'
Mika; in Hello? Is Anybody There?, Jostein Gaardner

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